Using LCAs for DOE Loan Guarantees

To foster environmental innovation in energy generation, the USA Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program is offering companies an opportunity to apply for federally guaranteed loans to support the deployment of new and innovative technologies.  The program, based on the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the DOE to issue loan guarantees to eligible projects that “avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases” and “employ new or significantly improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued.”  The goal of the program, as stated by DOE, is to accelerate the commercial use of new or improved technologies to help sustain economic growth, yield environmental benefits, and produce a more stable and secure energy supply.

To qualify for a federally guaranteed loan, the company must show that employing its technology in its project proposed for loan guarantee support can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants (in particular, NOx, SOx, and particulates) over the life cycle of the project, including the life cycle of its products, and improve the energy security of the United States.  To provide evidence of this accomplishment, several companies contracted with Boustead Consulting to complete a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), or cradle-to-grave analysis, of their project.

Boustead has conducted LCA’s for several companies applying for loan guarantees.  The projects ranged in technology including: solar cells, electric car batteries, wind turbine farms, wood waste to energy, waste to diesel fuel, and agricultural/wood wastes to intermediate chemicals. 

Two recent examples of success are Abound Solar and Ener1/EnerDel.


In July 2010, Abound received an offer for a $400 million loan commitment from the Department of Energy that will enable the expansion of the existing Longmont, Colorado facility as well as the construction of a second production facility in Tipton, Indiana.  When both plants are complete, Abound Solar will be able to produce more than 840 megawatts of solar modules annually.

ENER1 / EnerDel

EnerDel has two state-of-the-art production facilities in the Indianapolis area.  Cell manufacturing is performed at the Hague Road facility, which has 92,000 square feet of manufacturing and engineering space.  Battery pack assembly and testing is performed at the Noblesville location, which holds 35,000 square feet of manufacturing and general purpose space.  The two plants currently employ 150 workers.

Current production capacity is 10,000 electric vehicle (EV) packs per year, equivalent to 100,000 hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) packs.  Capacity will peak at 30,000 EV packs per year in the current Indiana-based facilities at full utilization.

On receipt of the conditional $118.5 million in federal grants from the US Department of Energy, EnerDel will double this number by 2012, to give a production capacity of 60,000 EV (600,000 HEV) packs per year, creating an estimated 1,700 new jobs in the State of Indiana.  Under the plan submitted to the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program (ATVMIP), EnerDel will double this number again by 2015, to give a total production capacity of 120,000 EV (1,200,000 HEV) packs per year, creating in excess of 3,000 new jobs.